Hours after thousands of charged protesters ransacked several churches and residents of Christians in Faisalabad, the police said they had arrested at least 100 miscreants. At the same time, the district administration has summoned the paramilitary Rangers to help keep the peace.
The interim Punjab government has ordered a high-level inquiry after a mob set fire to a number of churches and vandalised Christians' homes during a rampage.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwar ul Haq Kakar called for stern action against those responsible for violence on Christian community. "I am gutted by the visuals coming out," he stated.
In an official statement on Friday, the police termed the incident a 'conspiracy to upend peace in the country.'
چیف سیکرٹری پنجاب زاہد اختر زمان اور آئی جی پنجاب ڈاکٹر عثمان انور کا جڑانوالہ کا دورہ، چیف سیکرٹری پنجاب اور آئی جی پنجاب ڈاکٹر عثمان انور نے حالات کا جائزہ لیا،چیف سیکرٹری پنجاب اور آئی جی پنجاب کی شہریوں، امن کمیٹی کے نمائندوں، انٹیلی جنس ایجنسیوں کے افسران سے ملاقات,ایڈیشنل… pic.twitter.com/4WWGK4DHls— Punjab Police Official (@OfficialDPRPP) August 16, 2023
"Due to the desecration of the Holy Quran, the crowd was agitated," the statement said, adding that around 5,000 to 6,000 people gathered in the form of small groups at different locations across Jaranwala and then attempted to attack the residential areas of a religious minority (Christians).
Given the prevailing tense situation in the district, the administration had requested the deployment of paramilitary Rangers to keep the peace.
The police said that thus far, they have apprehended as many as 100 suspects involved in the attacks. Further, they said that videos of the incident have been obtained and will be used to trace the suspects.
"Scientific means will be used to investigate the matter," the statement read.
The police claimed that at many locations, they had foiled attacks by the charged mob and attempts to damage certain buildings were foiled.
Peace and intelligence committees
The police statement said that the local peace committee was immediately mobilized shortly after the incident. Together with the district administration, police said they were ensuring peace.
Further, the police said that peace committees across the province were called by noon, and security was increased at all places of worship.
To closely monitor the situation, the statement said, the Faisalabad Commissioner, Faisalabad Regional Police Officer (RPO), Faisalabad Deputy Commissioner, and Faisalabad City Police Officer (CPO) were present on the spot since morning. Further, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Punjab chief secretary, Home additional chief secretary, Additional IG Special Branch and various intelligence agencies are located near Jaranwala.
Moreover, the police said that all district intelligence committees met in their respective districts across Punjab to review the situation in their respective areas.
Meanwhile, an FIR was registered at the Faisalabad City police station against the suspects under Section 295-B and 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The FIR identified the suspects as 'Raja' and 'Rocky' (aliases), who had allegedly desecrated the Holy Quran and used indecent language against the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) apart from abusing Muslims. The suspects then fled the scene.
Police took the desecrated pages of the Holy Quran and other offending material into possession.